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In national BBQ competition, Minn. family takes 7th in pork ribs, 29th overall

The Rub My Rack BBQ team from Fort Ripley Township is all smiles after making it to the finals Saturday of the Sam's Club National Pro BBQ Tour in Bentonville, Ark., where the family placed 29th overall -- but seventh in the pork ribs category -- among the 50 teams in the cook-off. Photo by Patty Blankenship

BENTONVILL, Ark. —The Dobosenski family took seventh in the pork ribs category in the Sam's Club National Pro BBQ Tour Saturday, Oct. 7, and consider themselves lucky — no bones about it.

The Fort Ripley Township couple and their three daughters of "Rub My Rack BBQ" were among 50 finalists competing for a $150,000 purse at the Sam's Club headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.

"We're not feeling too bad about it," said Tonia Dobosenski, mother of the Crow Wing County family, which won $400 for its efforts. "This was our first time making it to the national finals."

The couple include their children — 9-year-old Zoe, 5-year-old Gemma and 4-year-old Maizie — in their hobby of competing on the Kansas City Barbeque Society circuit.

"Out of the best cooks in the country, we were 29th overall. That's nothing to hang your head about," she said of their final standings in Saturday's cook-off. "We're super happy about it."

Stan Dobosenski is the co-owner of Ironfire Ironworks Inc. where his wife Tonia is the bookkeeper at the full-service metal fabrication shop in Brainerd.

"Another cool thing was that I had family members at the finals," Tonia Dobosenski said. "Stan's sister drove down there, and my grandma, who is over 80 years old and taking treatments for cancer, and my aunt and uncle from Oklahoma, they all came to cheer us on."

The Rub My Rack BBQ team's first Kansas City Barbeque Society-sanctioned event was the professional Great Northern BBQ competition in Brainerd in 2013; it placed seventh in chicken and 11th overall.

"In terms of competitor mindset, if you don't think you can show up to a competition and win, you should not be going in the first place," Stan Dobosenski said of his approach to winning.

Tonia Dobosenski, 39, is the Fort Ripley Township clerk and her 41-year-old husband Stan is on the Fort Ripley Township Board and is the vice president of the Minnesota Barbeque Society.

"Barbecue is huge across this country and even across the world, especially in Australia and New Zealand and even Germany, and it just seems to be snowballing," Stan Dobosenski said.

In the National Pro BBQ Tour finals presented by Sam's Club, the team ranked 29th overall when the smoke had cleared—and 21st in chicken, 39th in pork and 33rd in brisket categories.

"Across the walkway from us were the people who won the $50,000 top prize—a father-and-son team," Tonia Dobosenski said of Que'n Stew'n & Brew'n of Acworth, Ga. "The father had cooked that contest six times before and made it to the finals, but it was his first time winning it."

Kansas City Barbeque Society sanctions more than 500 barbecue contests worldwide, and its members also offer assistance to civic and charitable organizations who organize events, according to its website.

"Last year, we made it through our local competition and through our regionals ... so we did better this year," she said of Rub My Rack BBQ's second attempt in the Sam's Club competition.

The family of five entered a Watertown, S.D., competition three years ago called "Cookin' on

Kampeska" and took fifth place in the ribs portion.

"The total amount of teams is 750 in the beginning ... so we were part of the top 50 teams to get to the finals this year," she said of the National Pro BBQ Tour. "That's a big deal in and of itself."

Kansas City Barbeque Society is a nonprofit "dedicated to promoting and enjoying barbeque" and is "the world's largest organization of barbeque and grilling enthusiasts with over 20,000 members worldwide."

"The top three teams for team of the year at KCBS-sanctioned events were all there competing Saturday," she said of the Sam's Club National Pro BBQ Tour on Saturday. "It was amazing how many really, really good cooks were there—the best of the best."